It was a homestand in which the much-maligned Pat Burrell rediscovered his power stroke, Adam Eaton found his pitching rhythm, and the Phillies got back to the international standard of mediocrity - .500.
Burrell launched his sixth homer of the season today and Eaton pitched six-plus scoreless innings as the Phillies defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-3, before 39,030 at Citizens Bank Park.
Aaron Rowand, looking comfortable in the leadoff spot, added a solo homer and an RBI single and Brett Myers notched the save as the Phils concluded a 7-3 homestand, one in which they improved to 22-22 by winning series from the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee and Toronto.
"We'll take it, especially against the teams we played, and we'd like to carry the momentum onto the road," said first baseman Greg Dobbs, who continued to excel while filling in for the injured Ryan Howard.
"It's nice to come home and make it our home because we had been struggling a little," Eaton added.
Catcher Rod Barajas also contributed, reaching base in all four at-bats (with a single, a double and two walks) and scoring two runs.
The Phils, who were aided by three double plays and shaky baserunning by the Blue Jays, survived three eighth-inning solo homers served by reliever Geoff Geary.
Perhaps the most significant development of the homestand was the resurgence of Burrell, who slammed five homers and knocked in 11 runs while batting .300, getting nine hits in 30 at-bats.
"He's keeping his weight back when he loads up," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Any time you hit the ball good, it builds confidence. I want him to be consistent like he was a couple years ago."
"With Ryan on the DL, Pat definitely stepped up," Eaton said.
Eaton's reemergence was also a major story of the homestand. When it started, he had a 7.43 ERA. But after two terrific starts, in which he allowed one earned run in 132/3 innings, his ERA dipped to 5.70.
He has a 1.74 ERA in his last three starts.
"I kind of struggled with the ball up all day today, but I had enough movement to get away with it," Eaton said,
Dobbs, claimed off waivers in the winter, also contributed mightily. He had two hits and an RBI today and hit .414 on the homestand, going 12 for 29.
As reserves, "our job is to make the manager not feel there will be a hiccup in the lineup when we go in," Dobbs said.
In the second inning, the Phils took the lead for good when Burrell homered to left-center off righthander Jesse Litsch (1-1), who had pitched brilliantly in his major-league debut Tuesday against Baltimore. Rowand's seventh homer and Dobbs' RBI single made it 3-0 in the third.
After the Phils built a 5-0 lead, Geary gave up solo homers to Alex Rios, Vernon Wells and Matt Stairs in the eighth, slicing the gap to 5-3 and bringing on Myers for a four-out save.
After walking the leadoff hitter in the ninth, the jacked-up Myers struck out pinch-hitter Frank Thomas (swinging on a 96-m.p.h. fastball) and Brian Roberts (looking on a 97-m.p.h. fastball) before retiring Rios on a grounder to third baseman Abraham Nunez.
"We just have to go out and keep winning each series and have the same mentality," Myers said after his sixth save in seven chances. "We played great on the homestand. Whether it was Carlos [Ruiz's] home run or a six-run inning against the Cubs, everybody stepped up and we came together as a team."
"Early in the season, we weren't playing bad; we just lost a lot of games that could have easily gone the other way," said Rowand, the centerfielder, now hitting .333. "Guys were pressing a little, but now guys are falling into their roles and playing more relaxed."
Rowand and rightfielder Shane Victorino had assists on double plays. Phils outfielders lead the majors with 20 assists, including a league high of seven by Victorino.
"I wouldn't run on this outfield," Eaton said.
Eaton (4-3) conceded that he was winded after running from first to third on Rowand's sixth-inning single and that his legs "got a little heavy" when he pitched in the seventh. But he didn't regret showing off his speed on the base paths.
"Pitchers are the best athletes on the field, aren't they?" he deadpanned.